Kay and Gerda were looking at a picture book of birds and beasts one day, and it was then-just as the clock in the church tower was striking five-that Kay cried:
"Oh! something hurt my heart. And now I've got something in my eye."
The little girl put her arm around his neck, and he blinked his eye. No, she couldn't see anything in it.
"I think it's gone," he said. But it was not gone. It was one of those splinters of glass from the magic mirror. You remember that goblin's mirror-the one which made everything great and good that was reflected in it appear small and ugly, but which magnified all evil things until each blemish loomed large. Poor Kay! A fragment had pierced his heart as well, and soon it would turn into a lump of ice. The pain had stopped, but the glass was still there.
Kay and Gerda held each other by the hand. And as they walked along they had wonderful spring weather. The land was green and strewn with flowers, church bells rang, and they saw the high steeples of a big town. It was the one where they used to live. They walked straight to Grandmother's house, and up the stairs, and into the room, where everything was just as it was when they left it. And the clock said tick-tock, and its hands were telling the time. But the moment they came in the door they noticed one change. They were grown-up now.
The roses on the roof looked in at the open window, and their two little stools were still out there. Kay and Gerda sat down on them, and held each other by the hand. Both of them had forgotten the icy, empty splendor of the Snow Queen's palace as completely as if it were some bad dream. Grandmother sat in God's good sunshine, reading to them from her Bible:
"Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
Kay and Gerda looked into each other's eyes, and at last they understood the meaning of their old hymn:
"Where roses bloom so sweetly in the vale,
There shall you find the Christ Child, without fail."
And they sat there, grown-up, but children still-children at heart. And it was summer, warm, glorious summer.